Black Entertainment Television and TV One, the major African American-oriented networks, provided a much-needed service on Election Day by providing a sympathetic outlet for their stunned viewers to process Donald Trump’s presidential victory. But on Inauguration Day, both took a pass.
They blew it.
“Our viewers are far more emotionally moved by the exit of the Obamas and so we spent time celebrating them with special programming (video) on their last full day in Washington,” Jamie Owens, a spokesman for BET, told Journal-isms by email Friday. During the inauguration ceremony, BET showed a teen movie, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.”
A TV One spokeswoman placed a question about coverage in the context of its morning news show, “NewsOne Now.”
“We chose to dedicate this morning’s show to the legacy of President Barack Obama,” spokeswoman Brandii Toby-Leon messaged. “On Monday, Jan. 23, NewsOne Now will offer our viewers an in-depth overview of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, including this weekend’s Inaugural activities.” In the run-up to Trump’s taking the oath, TV One showed a rerun of the ’70s sitcom “The Jeffersons.”
A third black-oriented network, Bounce TV, showed “Brothers in Arms,” an action-adventure western.
In fairness, these networks primarily consider themselves purveyors of entertainment.
Still, other networks, including the Spanish-language Univision and Telemundo, found that the inauguration of a president supported by few blacks provided plenty to talk about. Viewers had to work, however, to find a concentrated African American perspective.
In his 16-minute speech, Trump painted a bleak picture of current-day America and blamed politicians who shared the stage with him. “Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth,” he said.
Trump also said, “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. . . .”
The new president, often characterized as appealing to white racist impulses, said at one point, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” That line received almost no traction, however. The speech was generally viewed as an excessive appeal to nationalism and red meat for Trump’s base.
“I felt myself squirming at times because he was insulting some of the people he is sharing the platform with,” “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt said in NBC’s post-speech discussion.
On CNN, commentator Van Jones said Trump’s use of “patriotism” was ambiguous. “To the right, patriotism is the key to prosperity. To the left, patriotism is a code for prejudice.” On the same panel, Nia-Malika Henderson said Trump could at least have shaken hands with Hillary Clinton, his Democratic presidential opponent who was in the audience. Trump also could have mentioned women, many of whom plan to attend a Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, Henderson said.
On MSNBC, Eugene Robinson said he found Trump’s talk scary. Later, on a special edition of “Hardball,” the talk turned to D.C. street protests in which police arrested more than 200 people. Robinson, a Washington Post columnist, predicted that “we’re going to see more of this” during Trump’s presidency. “It reminds me of the Nixon days,” Robinson said.
Gayle King, who anchored CBS’ morning coverage, co-hosted an evening special with John Dickerson in which filmmaker Ava Duvernay and comedian Larry Wilmore participated. “For me, the only answer is to resist,” Duvernay said of Trump. Wilmore noted that the country was divided — the same nation that elected Obama put Trump in office.
ABC hired former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who left office in December, as a political analyst. She responded to Trump “by suggesting, with a heavy dose of sarcasm, that Trump’s message that violence would be halted immediately under his watch was naive,” Kevin Rector reported for the Baltimore Sun.
“‘Brilliant, why didn’t I think of that?’ Rawlings-Blake wrote on Twitter. ‘Killings solved, poof.’ ”
Those were not the only journalists and commentators of color to be found on the mainstream networks. “We had Robin Roberts, Byron Pitts, Deborah Roberts, Cecilia Vega, Tom Llamas, Pierre Thomas, TJ Holmes, Ken Moton, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and more,” ABC spokesman Van Scott said by email.
Journalists of color at other networks were also on the scene. Commentator Juan Williams opined for Fox News Channel. Jeff Pegues and Errol Barnett reported for CBS, and Elaine Quijano anchored for CBSN, the CBS internet news channel. Kristen Welker was among those reporting for NBC.
Their viewers learned that Trump’s use of an “America First” theme was surprising because the term had been linked in the 1930s to anti-Semitism and an isolationist movement. And that the Coast Guard Academy became integrated after John F. Kennedy noticed at his 1961 inauguration that Coast Guard contingent had no blacks.
Like their mainstream counterparts, the Spanish-language networks took inauguration coverage seriously.
NBC-owned Telemundo announced that “Noticias Telemundo” anchor José Díaz-Balart and ‘Al Rojo Vivo’ host María Celeste Arrarás led a team of more than 10 reporters and presenters stationed around the country.
Asked what the analysts and commentators said, spokesman Camilo Pino responded by email, “Well, I don’t want to generalize but the conservative perspective was that he softened the speech and that . . . it was more inclusive and the liberal perspective was that it was a nationalist and populist speech.”
Univision, too, had announced it was going all out. “Special coverage of the 45th Presidential Inauguration, titled ‘Cambio de Mando’ (Change of Leadership), kicks off at 7:00 a.m. ET/4:00 a.m. PT on the Univision Network’s morning show ‘Despierta América’ (Wake Up America), with news anchor Satcha Pretto hosting from Washington, D.C.,” Univision said in a news release Thursday. “Then, at 11:00 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT, the Network’s live coast-to-coast broadcast of the inauguration ceremony begins, led by award-winning anchors Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas, also stationed in the nation’s capital.
“They will be joined by distinguished guests that include former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, Mexican politician and professor Jorge Castañeda, Harvard lecturer and advisor to the Trump transition team, Carlos Díaz Rosillo, and Jazmina Saavedra, director of Latinas for Trump, as well as members of the Women’s March and the DREAMer movement, to discuss the details of the inauguration as well as analyze important issues that could impact Latinos during the Trump administration. . . .”
It fell to the print and pixel media to provide concentrated attention on the African American perspective.
Allison Keyes reported online for The Root, “Yvette Cormier’s brows furrowed when she was asked what she thought about being on the National Mall to see President Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony. She was here for both of President Barack Obama’s inaugurations and thinks that today wasn’t the same at all.
“ ‘The energy of the crowd is completely different, and there’s no diversity,’ said Cormier, an African-American woman who traveled from Plainfield, N.J. ‘I didn’t realize this movement is so white.’ . . .”
Zeba Blay wrote in Huffington Post Black Voices under the headline, “Black Activists React To Trump’s Inauguration: ‘I Feel Betrayed’. ”
The coverage wasn’t all serious. A headline over a story by Veronica Wells on madamenoire.com read, “All Of The Gross Things That Have Happened Since Donald Trump Took Office.” The site also published “10 Shirts You’re Going To Need To Get Through The Next Four Years” by Brande Victorian.
Blavity.com showed a photo of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton under the headline, “Michelle Obama’s Side-Eyes Were Absolutely The Single Best Part of The Presidential Inauguration.”
It added suggested captions for that photo and others, collected from people who posted the photos on Twitter. These included:
Michelle: Chile… pic.twitter.com/AHACaT4wfX
— Je suis Akere (@_Choccie) January 20, 2017
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: ‘Divisive,’ ‘Radical,’ ‘Consistent With His Brand.’ TV Newsers Weigh in On Pres. Trump Inauguration Speech
- Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Rev. Herb Lusk, an ex-Eagle, says conservative blacks are being intimidated by liberal ones
- Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times: President Trump will be a boon and a challenge for the cable news business
- Alexander Bolton, the Hill: Trump team prepares dramatic cuts
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: From Sandy Hook to the ‘red line’: Six officials talk about working for Obama, serving the country
- Ryan Chittum, Ann Cooper, Bob Garfield, Betsy Reed, New York Times “Room for Debate”: Media in the Age of Trump
- Joe Davidson, Washington Post: What happens now to Justice Dept.’s civil rights enforcement?
- Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com: Donald Trump takes over a country mostly skeptical of him
- Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com: No joke: The United States of America had a black president
- Gene Demby, NPR “Code Switch”: Obama’s Racial Legacy: Some Last Words On The First Black President
- Leah Donnella, NPR “Code Switch: As Trump Is Sworn In, Supporters Debate His Role In Healing Racial Wounds
- Editorial, Arab American News: Achievements marred with disappointments
- Brian Flood, thewrap.com: Fusion TV Invests in Social Justice Coverage During Trump Era With ‘Fusion Fights’ (Exclusive)
- Benjamin Freed, Washingtonian: Grasping for Metaphor, Reporters Flock to Burning DC Garbage Can
- Chris Fuchs, NBC News: For American Muslims for Trump’s Founder, the Inauguration Is a ‘New Beginning‘
- Suzanne Gamboa, Sandra Lilley and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, NBC News: Latinos Usher in a New Era: It’s President Trump
- Robin Givhan, Washington Post: Melania Trump picks patriotism and international glamour for her debut as first lady
- Renée Graham, Boston Globe: Dear President Trump
- Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: CAPAC leader Rep. Judy Chu on skipping the Trump inaugural, saving health care, Dreamers, and more
- Michael Harriot, The Root: An Obituary for America
- Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: Heart of President Barack Obama’s legacy is true change
- Danielle James, hellobeautiful.com: A Message From Our Future: Young, Black Girls Write Letters To President Trump
- Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas Morning News: Trump’s lack of ideology gives him a chance to break gridlock, be an effective president
- Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw, ProPublica: Trump Promised to Resign From His Companies — But There’s No Record He’s Done So
- Whitney Leaming, Washington Post: Protesters set limo on fire outside The Washington Post (video)
- Michael Massing, the Nation: How to Do Journalism in Trump’s America
- Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Trump’s failure to appoint Hispanic Cabinet members is no minor issue
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: How to cover Trump? Literally and seriously.
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Trump may be becoming the new normal. I refuse to accept that.
- James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: The first black president passes the torch, but his legacy lives on
- Reporters Without Borders: Press freedom under Trump: turbulent times ahead
- Raul A. Reyes, NBC News Latino: We Latinos Can’t Be Complacent; We Must Stay Engaged
- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: When fear rules, constitutional rights get trampled
- Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald: No Latinos in Trump Cabinet, a first since Reagan
- Nate Silver, fivethirtyeight.com: The Real Story Of 2016: What reporters — and lots of data geeks, too — missed about the election, and what they’re still getting wrong.
- David Uberti and Pete Vernon, Columbia Journalism Review: The coming storm for journalism under Trump
- Errin Haines Whack, Associated Press: Black Americans weep for the Obama era and uncertain future
- Lilly Workneh, Huffington Post Black Voices: 10 Striking Reflections On Obama’s Presidency From Black Change-Makers
- Michelle Zacarias, Latina: Romanticizing President Barack Obama’s Legacy in the Age of Donald Trump
Essence magazine will be among those allowing staff members to attend Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, holding signs if they choose unless they are covering the event, a spokeswoman told Journal-isms on Friday.
“Per Jess Cagle (Editor-in-Chief, PEOPLE and Editorial Director, Time Inc. Celebrity Entertainment & Style Group), we’ve told our editorial staff that ‘there’s no restriction on attending the women’s march, which is arguably not a protest.’ However, some have asked if it’s OK to hold signs. which is of course ok unless they are there in an official capacity covering the event, ” Essence spokeswoman Sheila Harris said by email.
Harris noted that the parent Time Inc.’s standards of business policy says, “Editorial staff members involved in covering a political campaign or major controversial issue, including editors, researchers, and other editorial employees involved in shaping our coverage, may not be publicly identified with a particular candidate or side of the issue being covered.”
Other publications have varying standards. “For many in the media, this election year — and the results of the election — [have] resulted in a shift from the traditional reportorial remove taught at journalism schools as more and more publications have asserted a point of view,” Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke reported Thursday for WWD. “That’s especially apparent in the ways that media organizations are planning to cover the Women’s March in Washington on Saturday, the day after Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.
“What began on Facebook as a grassroots plan to unite women who were disappointed by the results of a campaign where a female presidential candidate won the popular vote but lost the election, has become a movement to show support for women’s rights. . . .”
Bloomgarden-Smoke also wrote that “as more and more outlets attempt to cover the new political and cultural reality, magazine web sites and digital publications are now struggling with the journalistic questions that newspapers have been grappling with for generations. . . .
“The march itself raises the question of whether journalists who are not covering it should attend as private citizens. Among the outlets WWD reached out to, The New York Times, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed (or, as Trump called it during his press conference, a ‘failing piece of garbage’) are not allowing their reporters to attend unless they are on assignment. . . .”
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: CNN Reminds Employees They Can’t Participate in Women’s Marches
- La’Tasha D. Mayes, Rewire: Why Black Women Are No Longer Asking for a Seat at the Table in Philadelphia
“President Donald Trump will tap Ajit Pai as his pick to lead the FCC in the new administration, elevating the sitting GOP commissioner to the top spot overseeing the nation’s communications industry, according to four industry sources familiar with the decision,” Alex Byers and Tony Romm reported Friday for Politico.
“The announcement could come as soon as this afternoon, the sources said. Pai, a Barack Obama nominee who has served as the senior FCC Republican for more than three years, could take the new role immediately and wouldn’t require approval by the Senate because he was already confirmed to serve at the agency. . . .”
Byers and Romm also wrote, “Pai is already a familiar name in tech and telecom policy debates. He’s a fierce and vocal critic of many regulations passed by the commission’s Democratic majority, including the 2015 net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally and are opposed by the major broadband companies.
“As chairman, Pai will be able to start the process of undoing the net neutrality order and pursuing other deregulatory efforts. . . .”
- Brian Fung, Washington Post: ‘I don’t intend to go crawl under a rock’: An exit interview with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
- Todd Shields, Bloomberg: Trump Taps Net-Neutrality Foe Ajit Pai to Lead FCC, Source Says
- “Facebook has been accused of racism for taking down too many posts by Black Lives Matter activists,” Kieran Corcoran wrote Friday for Heatstreet. “The social network was accused of taking ‘disproportionate’ action against posts by black people — while failing to pursue white supremacists. . . .”
Robbie R. Morganfield has been named chairman of the Department of Mass Communication at Grambling State University, the school confirmed on Thursday. Morganfield was executive director of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University from 2004 to 2007 and the next year became lead pastor in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. “I am not running from ministry; I’m running fast forward into a new dimension of it,” Morganfield told Facebook friends.
- “Wayne Barrett, the muckraking Village Voice columnist who carved out a four-decade career tilting at developers, landlords and politicians, among them Donald J. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, died on Thursday in Manhattan,” Sam Roberts reported Thursday for the New York Times. “He was 71. His wife, Fran Barrett, said the cause was complications interstitial lung disease. . . .” Wayne Dawkins tribute
- “Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim will be launching a new Spanish-language television network in the United States in an attempt to compete with giants Univision and Televisa,” Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for Forbes. “Called Nuestra Visión (Our Vision), the channel will be launched by Publicidad y Contenido Editorial (Advertising and Editorial Content), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Slim’s Mexican cell-phone company América Móvil and run by CEO Victor Herrera and VP Stephano Herrera. . . .”
- “The Backpage site has long been accused by anti-sex-trafficking groups and some in the law enforcement community of ‘profiting from the exploitation of vulnerable people,’ as Ramsey County Attorney John Choi described it in an MPR interview this week,” Rubén Rosario wrote Friday for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. But Lois Lee, founder of Children of the Night, “perhaps one of the most widely known national hotline, shelter and social-service nonprofits for trafficked minors,” was not as happy as Rosario thought. “ ‘It’s a sad day for America’s children victimized by prostitution,’ Lee said in a prepared statement sent to me. Ads for her organization and its 24/7 rescue hotline ‘were featured prominently on Backpage, and became the highest source of our calls and increased the numbers of children coming to us for rescue,’ she wrote. . . .”
- CNN has tapped the daughter of Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s closest adviser, to cover the Department of Justice, Daniel Halper reported Thursday for the New York Post. “Laura Jarrett quietly joined the network in September as a reporter in the network’s Washington bureau. She came to CNN with no experience in journalism. But the Harvard educated lawyer defended companies and individuals against the Justice Department as a private litigator in Chicago. . . .”
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